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Cuban Interested In Buying Pirates?


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Billionaire and Mt. Lebanon native Mark Cuban said yesterday he would be interested in investigating buying the Pirates if they became available.


The flamboyant owner of the Dallas Mavericks of the NBA also said he would be amenable to joining the Pirates' current ownership group -- if asked -- if there were a risk of the baseball team leaving Pittsburgh.


Pirates owner Kevin McClatchy didn't return a phone call last night, but he did say in a statement, "There's no chance of the Pirates moving away, so it's really a nonissue."


Cuban made his comments at the Pirates' game against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field, where he led the crowd in the traditional singing of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" after the top of the seventh inning.


"It absolutely killed me to sing 'Root, root, root for the Cubbies,' " Cuban said. "I asked the broadcasters later if anybody had ever put in the other team."


Cuban also wore a Cubs jersey with his name on the back during the song, but he quickly reaffirmed his loyalty to the Pirates and Pittsburgh when he met with reporters after leaving the WGN broadcast booth.


"I'm a baseball fan," he said. "I'm a huge Pirates fan. I'm a Pittsburgh fan."


Cuban, who will be 47 July 31, was asked if he'd be interested in purchasing the Pirates.


"If they ever decided to sell, I'd definitely be interested in taking a look," Cuban said. "But I'm certainly not the type to be proactive about it because that's not fair to Kevin.


"They've done their best with the Pirates, getting the stadium built. I think the Pirates have a great young nucleus for the future."


Cuban, who made his fortune by selling his streaming video company, broadcast.com, to Yahoo in 1999, bought the Mavericks in 2000.


"I look at the Pirates kind of like the Mavericks," he said. "People didn't have a lot of expectations when I bought them. All of a sudden, the switch flipped and things have been going great ever since. That's because we had a great young nucleus, and I think the Pirates have that opportunity as well."


The small-revenue Pirates seem en route to their 13th consecutive losing season. Would Cuban -- if asked -- join their ownership group, presumably to supply a large infusion of cash?


"It's something I'd consider," he said. "Like I said, I'm a Pirate fan. And if it ever got to the point where there was the risk of them being moved out of Pittsburgh, then, yeah, that's something I would consider.


"To me, it's important that [Pittsburgh has] our complement of [professional] teams."


Cuban plans to be in Pittsburgh Monday. He'll give a speech at a fund-raiser for St. Clair Hospital -- "I don't know about what yet," he said -- then he'll attend the Pirates game that night against Houston.


"Hopefully, we'll have a better showing," he said, referring to the Pirates' 11-1 loss yesterday.


Cuban plans to attend the game with his father, his brother and some high school friends. He's well aware that his attendance might spark speculation that he's going to buy the team.


"There was an article in [a Chicago] paper [yesterday] about me buying the Cubs," Cuban said. "You know, wherever I go, someone's going to speculate.


"I just want to go to the game [Monday], sit in center field and just eat hot dogs and drink beer."


Somebody asked Cuban if he could have already bought the Pirates if he just had the money he has paid in NBA fines over the years.


"No," he said, then added with a laugh, "but I could put a down payment down."



I think this would be awesome, even though it probably would not happen. Cuban would without a doubt invest alot of money to field a winner, something the city of Pittsburgh (a great sports town with alot of history) deserves. Cuban took the hapless Mavericks into one of the most marketable, exciting, and good teams in the NBA and I think he would be able to have that same effect on a team like the Pirates.

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